Wichita Co. Sheriff upset over 'jail padding' rumors

Wichita County Jail
Wichita County Jail

WICHITA COUNTY, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Wichita County Jail has been seeing a spike in the number of inmates, leading to many questions. Employee errors led to the backlog.

That employee was quickly fired by Sheriff David Duke. The numbers have since dropped, but the same can't be said for this topic throughout the county.

The jail averages 450 to 460 inmates a day. As of Wednesday morning, 443 inmates were in the county jail. But that wasn't the case in recent weeks.

"We had an individual that was just not doing some things properly and for a short time some inmates were backing up," Sheriff Duke said. "We addressed that and addressed it swiftly."

Sheriff Duke said that individuals' job was to get their paperwork to the state so it would be ready when the state came to pick them up and transfer them to a state prison.

Sheriff Duke said if inmates are 'paperwork ready' and in county jail after 45 days, they will be reimbursed by the state. If not, the county has to pay.

He said he's happy the numbers are back to normal but upset with a rumor he heard about a commissioner accusing him of padding the jail with more inmates and addressed it at Monday's Commissioners Court meeting.

"That's false, very false information," Sheriff Duke said. "And I wanted to make sure that was clear."

"None of us could tell who he was talking about," Wichita County Judge, Woody Gossom said. "But I did go up to him and say am I your problem? And he said no."

Judge Gossom said the numbers are back down and he's pleased with the work the sheriff's office is doing. He added that sometimes a message can be lost in translation. Sheriff Duke said his focus is just on moving forward.

Sheriff Duke said there are times where the jail numbers get higher than they want because state prison cannot accept the inmates, which is no one's fault. He said he just wants commissioners to know how the process works.

Judge Gossom said the jail used to average more than 500 inmates, but Sheriff Duke and his staff have done a great job reducing that number.

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